“ECONOMIC SABOTAGE” – PRASA OFFERS R100 000 REWARD FOR INFORMATION
Riana Scott, Head of Marketing & Communication at Metrorail Western Cape Region, joined Benito Vergotine in studio to discuss the sad reality and impact of the 18 carriages that were destroyed last week.
Listen to the conversation here: PRASA offers R100 000 reward
“Economic sabotage” – these are the hard hitting words uttered by the National Minister of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula during his media briefing on Friday after two trains were burned at Cape Town Station.
A total of 4 complete train-sets (18 carriages in total) were destroyed amounting to R61 million rand. Overhead electrical damage to platforms amount to R150 000.
PRASA has appealed to the public to help confirm the identity of the four suspects that were captured by security cameras in the act of arson. PRASA has put up a reward of R100 000 for information that will secure the conviction of the four suspects suspected of setting alight two trains in the early hours of Friday 28 November 2019 at Cape Town Station.
PRASA condemned the acts of arson, saying there is no absolutely no justification for destroying state assets and inconveniencing thousands of commuters: “This type of sabotage robs commuters of a reliable, safe and convenient rail service and compromises Metrorail’s ability to prepare and support PRASA’s modernisation process. The latest loss of capacity will exacerbate overcrowding and passenger comfort” said Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, PRASA Group CEO.
Investigations and intelligence point to orchestrated sabotage within the Western Cape rail network, causing millions of rand in damage since the start of the sporadic spate of fires in 2015.
An analysis of vandalism patterns leave little doubt that criminals are deliberately setting out to cause mayhem and delays. “It is not coincidence that fires are set with intent to cause extensive damage and delays” said Richard Walker, Metrorail Western Cape Regional Manager.
Crime intelligence support the notion that the place, timing and type of vandalism is orchestrated and targeted to create chaos and destroy essential state infrastructure, placing a strain on the country’s fiscus during a depressed economy.
A shrinking base of taxpayers are ultimately having to fund the replacement of the infrastructure while the criminals behind the scenes remain unscathed.
PRASA said this destruction is short-sighted and self-defeating: “These agents may think they are serving their own selfish agenda but ultimately hard-working bread-winners reliant on trains pay the price when they face discipline and/or job losses at their places of work”.
“Anyone who targets innocent commuters and then sit back to watch the pain they inflict are monsters whom society should expose to face the consequences of their ill-conceived plans”.
“It is counter-productive to PRASA Rail’s ongoing efforts to stabilise and improve services for the majority of public transport users in the Western Cape”. “Ultimately taxes are used to replace assets that should not have been destroyed in the first place. The cost of perennial replacement could have been utilised more effectively to improve and modernise the train service” PRASA said.
“Setting fire to railway infrastructure is inexcusable sabotage. Every incident further reduces Metrorail’s ability to offer its users a reliable, safe and convenient service. The harder we work to modernise the rail industry, the more these incidents undermine the train users and public confidence in the Western Cape train service”.
Employers are exasperated with their work force arriving late or not at all; leading to unnecessary disciplinary sanctions and in some cases even job losses. Rail transportation is considered the backbone of public transport in the Western Cape and any further loss of capacity to transport them impacts negatively on the productivity of industry and on the economic wellbeing of the province.
The damage to underlying track infrastructure is yet to be confirmed. The integrity of overhead concrete slabs and pillars exposed to excessive heat of several fires will also be tested.
Platforms 10 – 19 remain closed at Cape Town Station and with less than half platforms functional, commuters face unnecessary delays on the approach to Cape Town Station for their trains to be allocated platforms for arrivals and departures.
PRASA is already working with the police and a cctv image of one of the suspects has been provided (attached). PRASA calls on all local and provincial law enforcement agencies, commuters and the general public to assist in the identification of the suspect.
Anyone with information is requested to contact the either investigating officer Sgt Williams on (078) 037 5969. All information will be treated in confidence and full anonymity is guaranteed.
Issued by PRASA
For more information contact:
Nana Zenani 083 297 5905
Riana Scott 083 284 3508